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Question #73966 posted on 08/30/2013 12:22 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I think that I would like reading Terry Pratchett books, but I haven't started any yet. His style seems similar to others authors that I like. Can anyone convince me that I should read his books? And what book should I start with? I am pretty sure I own The Color of Magic.

-Not going to have time to read when school starts anyways


Dear unfortunate story of my recent life,

I sent your question to my friend Myn, who introduced me to Terry Pratchett a couple months ago. Here's what she had to say.

Dear "you’re going to have to read these anyway,"

I got really excited when Yayfulness asked me to do this. These books are among my favorite "candy-books" by far. Why? Because they are witty, well-written, and have treasures of delight hidden among the humor. He makes fun of every social, economic, cultural, political norm he can come up and serves them as a gourmet delicacy. With every bit he surprises with witticisms you can taste for hours afterward. Honestly, I am rather picky about the books I read, but his are good. Sorry, Colors of Magic is not the best one. It’s okay as a beginner, but the stories are so diverse and with such different sets of characters that it really doesn't matter where you begin. They all take place in Discworld, but on different segments of the hub and the rim. 

My family's favorites are the stories about Captain Samuel Vimes. These are Guards! Guards!, Men at Arms, Feet of Clay, Jingo, The Fifth Elephant, Night Watch, Thud! and Snuff. Jingo is possibly my favorite as it parodies Lawrence of Arabia and Orientalism versus Occidentalism. My brother prefers Night Watch which has more of a time travel bent. 

More fun favorites are the stories about Moist von Lipvig (which is his real name, because no one would ever choose it for himself). These are Going Postal and Making Money

My personal favorites are Hogfather, Thief of Time and Carpe JugulumHogfather is a parody of Santa Claus, the Thief of Time is a story about stories, and Carpe Jugulum is a satire on vampires (as if anyone could add to the mocking). 

A few lovely quotes to whet your appetite, 

"Give a man a fire and he's warm for a day, but set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life."

― Terry Pratchett, Jingo

"It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life." 

― Terry Pratchett, The Last Continent

"A good bookshop is just a genteel black hole that knows how to read."

― Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!

"Always be wary of any helpful item that weighs less than its operating manual."

― Terry Pratchett, Jingo

"In fact, the mere act of opening the box will determine the state of the cat, although in this case there were three determinate states the cat could be in: these being Alive, Dead, and Bloody Furious."

― Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies

"If you don't turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else's story."

― Terry Pratchett, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents

"Death: Human beings make life so interesting. Do you know, that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to invent boredom."

― Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

One more thing. Terry Pratchett is an atheist. One of the things he makes fun of is religion. Not always, and not in all of his books. But it is there. The thing is—other  than that, he’s got a whole lot of things right, and I’m not just talking about bookshops and operating manuals. He just nails some things. And some things he gets dead wrong. But if you sift through that, you will find a new treasure of delight whenever you pick one up. Enjoy your journeys into Discworld.


P.S. Read them. Read them and get to know Death, Susan, the witches, the wizards (two completely different things), Carrot, and everyone of those delightful people. Read them.

My exposure to Terry Pratchett is not terribly extensive, but I have read Thief of Time, and it was quite enjoyable. I may have possibly stayed up until a rather absurd hour and skipped several activities in the process of reading it. Enjoy!



Dear No Time,

For the love of Discworld...please don't start with Color of Magic. I love Pratchett, but that is absolutely his worst book. I would recommend you start with The Wee Free Men. It's the first in the Tiffany Aching series, and features the Nac Mac Feegles, adorably roguish tiny blue men with a propensity for stealing, fighting, and drinking. 

Or, if you want to get a taste for Pratchett's writing style without also trying to figure out the characters and settings of the Discworld, may I suggest the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, starting with Only You Can Save Mankind. These books follow the wacky adventures of a group of British preteens as they battle space invaders, hang out with dead people, and meet a time-traveling bag lady.

Really though, with Terry Pratchett, you can't lose. His writing is witty, insightful, and compelling, and will make you chuckle to yourself even as you evaluate some of your most basic assumptions about life. I'm excited that you're about to experience his writing.


-Stego Lily


Dear you,

I'll represent a different arc than the Nac Mac Feegles and Tiffany Aching (to each their own); I'm a fan of the Sam Vimes/City Watch arc, which kicks off in Guards! Guards! 

Going Postal is also quite funny, and Monstrous Regiment kind of stands alone but is another fun read.

~Anne, Certainly (who also seconds Azriel's recommendation of Reaper Man. Death (the character) is awesome.)


Dear Edward d'Eath,

While I do love me some Feegles, Reaper Man is my absolute favorite Discworld book. Really, I love all the Death Books (because who does't love Death?), but that one takes the cake. I started there, and I think everyone and their dog should start there. Soul Music is also fantastic, and if you're in a Holiday Spirit (i.e. Christmas holiday), Hogfather is an excellent choice. Basically you should just read all the Death books. 

-Azriel, lover of the Discworld


Dear Beast,

My foray into the wonder world of Discworld began at Christmas when Father M. turned on Hogfather. I fell in love with Death, and I was hooked. 

So yes. Take Azriel's suggestion. And if you need a jumpstart into Discworld, watch the movies. Which are actually really well done for book-to-movie adaptations.

-Tally M.